Historic Scotland, wants the Scottish public to engage in a debate about how to protect the country’s postwar architecture, which is fast disappearing.

Only 193 out of 47,400 listed buildings date from the postwar period. The lack of modern buildings on the register is partly because a structure must be at least 30 years old to be considered for listing. But Historic Scotland is concerned that modern buildings are seen as expendable.

Dr Deborah Mays, Historic Scotland’s head of listing, said: “They are under threat and disappearing at quite a rate.

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“Postwar buildings are perceived as being less long-lasting than Victorian ones when in fact they may last longer.

“We need to inform people and get them to appreciate the postwar legacy. We want to share the celebration and enjoyment of our postwar buildings.

“We can sweep things away too fast without considering their contribution to our world.

“We’re only saying, let’s think twice about this, before we see it go. If we want to keep it, we should keep what’s significant. The purpose is to open up dialogue.

“While many people still view listed buildings as having to be traditionally crafted, the number of outstanding examples of architecture and design that remain need to be considered as an important part of our heritage and just as revealing of our past as older buildings.”

Buildings that have protection include the Scottish Ambulance Service Building in Cowcaddens Glasgow (1966-70), Dundee University’s Arts Tower (1959-61) and the Hudson Beare Building, a University of Edinburgh lecture theatre, which was listed category B last week.

Historic Scotland has produced a book called Scotland: Building for the Future, held a conference on the protection of Scotland’s modern buildings and launched a website, www.celebratingscotlandsarchitecture.org.

The period after the Second World War was a time of innovation in architecture. Good design was seen as a force for change, a belief that led to the “new towns” such as Cumbernauld and Glenrothes, which drew visitors from all over the world.

Many structures put up in this spirit of hope, however, have since become objects of derision. The unlovely concrete St James Centre building in Edinburgh, for instance, which is not listed and is due to be demolished, is regarded by many locals as brutalist folly at its worst.

However, many buildings of the period have stood the test of time, both aesthetically and in being flexible to changing use.

Miles Glendinning, director of conservation studies at Edinburgh College of Art, said: “I don’t think there’s anything inherently worse about this period of architecture than any other.”

He said that public ambivalence and even revulsion towards architecture of the recent past, was not a phenomenon exclusive to the postwar period, but had happened after every new phase of architecture. He said: “People in the 1930s had great revulsion for Victorian architecture. They thought it pompous, florid and laden with ostentation, but people now like 19th-century buildings.”

He said that typically, a sense of “crestfallen hopes” set in 25 years after the completion of buildings and that phase had passed in relation to 1960s architecture; the problems with such buildings now were to do with maintenance and upgrade.

He added: “In architectural circles now, the most vilified period is the late 1970s and 1980s with its cheap commercialism.”

He welcomed Historic Scotland’s change in emphasis from championing certain iconic buildings and architects of the 1950s to 1970s, such as the works of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, and viewing “everything else as rubbish”, to taking a wider view of the cultural significance of buildings of the period.

He predicted that in 20 years’ time, Scots would appreciate the architecture of postwar period as much as they appreciate Victorian architecture now -- provided the buildings survive.

He added: “One of my favourite areas of social housing is Sighthill in Glasgow and now half of it’s gone. More will have gone in 20 years.

“In Aberdeen, because of the tradition of upkeep and maintenance, their social housing is like a museum of council housing. In 20 years, I imagine Aberdeen will be the last thing left standing and people will start to appreciate it.”

To qualify for listing, a building must be at least 30 years old and be of special architectural or historic interest. Dr Mays describes it as “a weighing up exercise”. Larger areas can also be given conservation area status, something that may be appropriate for new towns such as Cumbernauld.

Christina Malathouni, Scottish case worker for the 20th Century Society, which aims to safeguard the heritage of Britain from 1914 onwards, welcomed Historic Scotland’s efforts.

She rejected the notion that there was a consensus of dislike against architecture of the Sixties and Seventies, adding that the voices of opposition simply “shout louder”.



10 gems of the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s


Anniesland Court, Crow Road, Glasgow

Jack Holmes & Partners, 1966-68.

THIS 22-storey rectangular tower block, a local landmark, comprises a variety of apartments of different specifications, including two-storey flats, and is the tallest listed building in Scotland.


British Home Stores, Princes Street, Edinburgh

Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners, 1964-68.

BRITISH Home Stores’ first Scottish outlet was groundbreaking, particularly its escalators. Described by Historic Scotland as “an unusually excellent example of chain-store architecture”, it has a Bon Accord granite fascia with the store’s name incised on it.


Centrelink 5, the former Cummins diesel engine factory, Calderhead Road, Shotts, Lanarkshire

Ahrends, Burton & Koralek, 1975-1983.

THIS factory is considered by Historic Scotland to be “one of the most significant and important examples of large industrial buildings in later

twentieth-century Britain”.

It was designed after consultation with the owner and employees, producing what may be Scotland’s only ergonomic factory building.


Fasnakyle Power Station, by Beauly, Invernesshire

James Shearer, 1950.

THE rugged stone building was one of several by Shearer for

the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board. Shearer was awarded an OBE for his work on the power schemes.


Gala Fairydean Football ­Stadium, Nether Road, ­Galashiels

Peter Womersley, 1963-65.

A “UNIQUE building” with a sculptural feel. Its design makes striking use of concrete and geometry.

It is dubbed “the San Siro of the Borders” by some, in reference to the famous concrete stadium of San Siro in Milan.


Our Lady of the Isles statue, Ben Reuval, South Uist

Hew Lorimer, 1956.

THE commanding 30ft monumental statue of the Madonna holding a standing Christ child, set in the remote landscape of South Uist, is arguably the best work by Lorimer.

He also carved the figures on the facade of the National Library of Scotland.

Our Lady of Sorrows Church, South Uist

Richard McCarron, 1964-65.

THIS concrete church with its pitched roof dominates the local landscape.

It was built by parishioners, because of the difficulty of getting contractors to come to work on the island, and is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows in memory of the islanders who died in the world wars.

The rooftop cross is visible from the sea.


Pathfoot Building, Stirling University campus

RMJ-M, 1966-67.

DESCRIBED by Historic Scotland as an “outstanding example of post-war Modernist architecture, widely recognised as of international significance”.

In harmony with its parkland setting, the idea of having an adaptable interior influenced the architect Norman Foster.

Scottish Ambulance Service, Maitland Street, Glasgow

Skinner, Bailey & Lubetkin, 1966-70.

HISTORIC Scotland called this “extremely rare, striking and impressive”. The exterior is dominated by a large St Andrew’s Cross. Lubetkin was a pioneer architect of the Modern Movement who designed the penguin pool at London Zoo.

The building uses an unusual combination of tesserae, concrete, stone and coloured glass.


St Peter’s College, Kilmahew, Cardross

I Metzstein, J Cowell and A McMillan of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, 1966.

NOW in a state of serious disrepair, this has come to be viewed as one of the UK’s finest modern buildings. It was

influenced by the work of modernist Le Corbusier. It took the plan of the traditional monastery and reshaped it into a series of modern interrelated spaces.